It’s a stereotype that’s all too familiar to educators—the image of a teacher trying to engage a classroom of bored students waiting for the bell to ring. In real life, just how accurate is this image—and are there positive ways to engage students in learning?
According to the Fordham Institute’s 2017 report on student engagement, 50 percent of students who considered dropping out cited lack of engagement as the primary reason, while 42 percent said that they didn’t believe their studies were relevant.
When parents ask educators “Can you recommend some education tips for my children?” they’re really asking for ways to get their children more engaged with the subjects they’re being taught. The good news is that you can actually accomplish this at home by implementing a few strategies during the evening homework sessions.
By using these three tips on a daily basis, you can help your child relate those classroom subjects to real life—and you can also help make school a more enjoyable, more interesting place to be.
1. Show how classroom subjects are relevant to real life and important to the outside world.
The classroom can sometimes seem like a stuffy greenhouse; but if you bring the outside world into your child’s homework studies, you can demonstrate how those classroom subjects really do relate to real life.
One great way to do this is to take advantage of current events by bringing them into your child’s studies. For example, daily news about the stock market can be incorporated into math homework that deals with fractions and percentages. Likewise, basic math lessons can be tied into a lesson in how to save up for a much-wanted toy or movie tickets.
During events of worldwide interest, such as the Olympics, you can implement current stories of Olympic athletes or events into your child’s geography or social studies lessons. For example, a video of the Opening Ceremonies can tie in beautifully to a lesson on geography or world flags. For health or nutrition subjects, talk about how the Olympic athletes perfect their training with healthy diets.
2. Leverage your child’s interests.
According to a study conducted by the National Council of Teachers of English, students who don’t find their own cultures represented in textbooks are more likely to lose interest in class. Your child may feel alienated or left out because they don’t feel like the curriculum speaks to their interests or heritage.
One way to combat this is to leverage your child’s interests into homework assignments. If your child collects coins, stamps or dolls, for example, use your child’s favorite examples in a history or geography lesson. You can also make your child even more proud of their cultural background by integrating it into the day’s geography or history lesson. By making your child’s background a part of the story, these subjects will come alive. Also, consider retelling your children’s world history assignment from the perspective of their favorite characters from the Legion of Super-Heroes or Star Wars.
3. Play games.
Lesson time can be play time as well, and one creative option is to hold math or science contests with your child. You can create puzzles and your child can solve them—just be sure to hold your child’s interest by starting with easy puzzles and then working your way up to more complicated ones. This will not only stimulate an interest in math; it will also help demonstrate how math and science are used in real life.
If your child is studying poetry, you can have fun with dramatic recitations, with each of you taking a stanza and making the poem come alive. You can also spur your child’s creativity and imagination with limerick contests, which will teach your child how to write in verse.
By being creative during homework sessions, you can make your child’s lessons come alive and seem more relevant to the real world. As a result, your child will be more engaged in class, and may even look forward to going to school every day.